I was part of a session on the geopolitics of Ebola at the Association of American Geographers earlier this week. Annoyingly, the AAG scheduled this at 8am on the first day of the conference – hardly an appropriate time for such an important and contemporary topic. Nonetheless, about 30 people attended. Audra El Vilaly and Ian Shaw, the organisers, spoke at the session, along with Derek Gregory and me. I spoke on the specifics of the Sierra Leone case, based on my own reading but also drawing extensively on the experience of Susan Elden, who worked there as a British Government Senior Health Advisor between September 2014 and March 2015. This gave me a lot of detailed information and some striking photographs.The two sessions on Terrain, which I’d co organised with Gastón Gordillo, were on the second day, also beginning at 8am (line-up for session 1 and 2). They were well attended, despite the time, and the strange room – underneath the escalators with associated noise of gears grinding throughout. But the papers were lively and engaging, with a host of great examples and images. The papers built on each other in a nice way, adding different material elements – rivers, walls, dams, forests, mountains, mud, light and darkness, oceans and seabeds. I introduced the sessions and brought in a bit of Shakespeare too. Derek Gregory and Setha Low acted as discussants with thoughtful, engaging and occasionally spiky contributions. A good mix of established academics, earlier career, postgrads and one exceptional undergraduate paper. The entire group of us reconvened in the evening for dinner and drinks – all highly enjoyable.
Not sure what will come from either presentation in terms of publication, partly because my hands are full with the Foucault and Shakespeare projects. I did however record both of my talks and may upload the audio at some point.